Keeping An Eye On Your Team: Avoid The Affliction Of Burnout

During the hustle and bustle of everyday work, be sure not to ignore the two greatest assets to your organization:

  • Your team and
  • Their well being.

Avoiding burnout and achieving “work-life balance” are popular discussions in the workplace. The term “balance”, however, implies that every aspect in life is devoted an equal amount of time and attention. This is likely not the case for most individuals. Several approaches can be taken to achieve a more desirable work-life situation, and some of those are outlined in this article published in Forbes.

Despite this apparent focus on helping clinicians find the work/life combination that would lead to their most productive and best life, research has demonstrated that many healthcare workers are living in a consistent state of feeling weary and stressed. Much of the literature published around this topic is focused on physicians and physician trainees, however, the concepts are widespread throughout healthcare. Evidence shows that increased clinician burnout leads to lower patient satisfaction scores, quality, and safety of care, amongst other negative trends.

There have been suggestions for organizations to consider adding a fourth Aim to the Institute of Healthcare Improvement’s Triple Aim, with the fourth tenet focusing on improving the experience of providing care.

What are the major factors contributing to this situation? A Press Ganey report from 2018 determined that the following components of healthcare work were at the top of the list:

Internal Factors

  • Emotional exhaustion from caregiving
  • Witnessing distress
  • Stress of making decisions that directly affect patients’ lives

External Factors

  • Documentation/working with the electronic health record
  • Being short staffed
  • Productivity metrics
  • Lack of autonomy

This report did shed light on the positive things that help clinicians remain resilient: involvement in meaningful work, compensation, prestige, and recognition from patients.

The National Academy of Medicine has drawn attention to this important issue via their Clinician Well Being and Resilience Initiative that started in 2017.

The collaborative of over 60 healthcare organizations has three primary goals:

  1. Raise the visibility of clinician anxiety, burnout, depression, stress, and suicide
  2. Improve baseline understanding of challenges to clinician well-being
  3. Advance evidence-based, multidisciplinary solutions to improve patient care by caring for the caregiver.

There are several ways in which you can measure burnout; for a list of valid and reliable measurement tools, check out the NAM’s list here. These tools can be used to benchmark where your organization stands before the implementation of any wellness/resilience initiatives. Then, change can be measured over time to demonstrate positive movement.

Jackie is a full-time pharmacist and career coach at TheHappyPharmD, where she helps pharmacists live life by design. She loves her family, changing the world and the profession of pharmacy.

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